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201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: American History on: November 10, 2014, 11:25:16 PM
 shocked shocked shocked

And here I was thinking that the site was trying to make Patton look bad!
202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Gen. Patton on Jews and Russian Commies on: November 10, 2014, 06:06:09 PM

Our GM warns against relying on this site-- which is unfamiliar to me.  Please flesh that out GM.
203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: China moves in the South China Sea: Implications on: November 10, 2014, 01:01:27 PM

Editor's Note: Rodger Baker, Stratfor's Vice President of Asia-Pacific Analysis, recently returned from a trip through Australia, Micronesia and the Philippines. The analysis below is drawn from remarks he made on the shifting realities in the East and South China seas -- particularly involving China, the Philippines, Japan, Southeast Asia and the United States -- in a keynote speech at a meeting of the Manila Times Business Forum.

China's recent foray into the East and South China seas is not its first, but it is perhaps its most substantial. For a number of reasons, Beijing is no longer comfortable or confident enough to allow the status quo in the region to remain unchanged. The natural expansion of China's interests, and its attempts to expand and ensure its sphere of influence, inevitably lead to responses both from its neighbors and from the more geographically (but not strategically) distant United States. Beijing's intent is not to trigger conflict, but rather to slowly change the political reality of the region by expanding its maritime buffer and securing its maritime trade routes. But few of these changes will go unchallenged, adding a layer of uncertainty to the future of East Asia.


China historically has been a land power, not a maritime power. Although China has been involved in the maritime sphere for centuries and Chinese merchants have been active throughout Southeast Asia, the country's geography, natural resources, population pressures and neighbors have both allowed and encouraged Chinese leaders to focus their attention on the country's vast territory and land borders. At times of relative stability and security in China's history, Beijing could flirt with the idea of state-sponsored maritime exploration, as evidenced by the fleets of Zheng He. But for the most part, China avoided expanding its naval activity because it was neither pressed to physically assert its overseas diplomatic positions, nor did it have the bandwidth and freedom to look across the sea. The Silk Road provided sufficient access to exotic trade, and security concerns with neighbors kept China focused on the continent.

Beijing's Modern Maritime Interests

Today, there are two primary concerns driving Chinese maritime activity: economic resources and strategic access. Although many of the concerns China is dealing with now are not new, other factors have combined to both enable and compel Beijing to act in a more assertive manner.

The South China Sea has always had an abundance of natural resources. Although much attention is paid to existing and potential crude oil and natural gas reserves, as well as the possibility of subsea mineral extraction, one of the biggest resource drivers there is marine protein (fish and seafood). By some accounts, the South China Sea accounts for one-tenth of annual global seafood take. Asia's enclosed seas provide plentiful and readily available food resources, but fishing is a constant source of regional tension. Even at times of low inter-regional stress, fishing fleets frequently violate one another's territories, and run-ins with maritime patrols are not infrequent occurrences. These incidents are normally isolated, but if they occur when political sensitivities are heightened, they can quickly escalate into larger diplomatic incidents or even physical confrontations. (Several deadly maritime clashes between the divided Koreas in the past 20 years have been triggered by disputes over the location of fishing fleets.)

China's Moves in the South China Sea: Implications and Opportunities

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Crude oil, natural gas and seabed minerals are less proven, and political risk has kept significant progress in exploration to a minimum, except near proven reserves and usually within undisputed territory. However, this is not to say that there is no interest in tapping the subsea resources. Rising regional demand -- to which Beijing is a significant contributor -- and a rising level of technological proficiency in China and elsewhere is making subsea exploration and exploitation more desirable and achievable. China is entering the realm of deep-sea exploration, something it was not consistently able to engage in before. Still, cost and political risk will continue to impact decisions for exploration, since mere capability doesn't necessarily translate into cost effectiveness.

In addition to resource exploitation, there is another, more strategic, driver for China's maritime ambitions that is quickly becoming more pressing for Beijing. In the past, China was largely capable of meeting its own needs and sustaining its economy domestically, or via land routes. This is no longer the case, and the significant boom in the Chinese economy has raised the increasing vulnerability of China's overseas dependence to a much higher priority for Beijing. The large shift in Chinese consumption has created a heavy dependence on maritime routes, which high levels of Chinese exports only add to. This dependence has shaped the strategic picture in Beijing: As with any country dependent on maritime supply lines, China will seek to secure those routes, whether from regional competitors, non-state actors or any major maritime power.

China's Moves in the South China Sea: Implications and Opportunities

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The United States is currently the global maritime power, and the only nation that can (and does) operate freely throughout the world's oceans while ensuring the same opportunity for others. But the United States' ability to use and act on the seas with near impunity also means that, from China's perspective, Washington has the capability, if not the intent, to use that power to constrain China's growth. China's emergence as an economic power changed the international system, as it became one of three pillars of the global economy. This crucial role shapes not only China's perception of itself and its place in the world order, but also the perceptions others have of China. Beijing's concern is that the United States sees China as its only potential peer, even if an emerging regional power, and thus Chinese leaders fear that Washington will make the decision (if it hasn't already) to contain any further rise of China. This question of Washington's intent, combined with U.S. maritime power, has put pressure on China to develop the defensive capability to protect its critical maritime supply lines, or leave itself at the mercy of the United States.

The shift in Beijing's threat perception coincided with changes in the Chinese military. Under President Jiang Zemin, the Chinese government began to restructure the military and stripped away its business empire, in return offering the People's Liberation Army (PLA) a more modern role and more modern equipment. The modernization of the Chinese military required a new type of soldier who was highly educated and understood the technology of modern warfare. It also required a shift in the training, doctrine and overall focus of the Chinese military. The PLA has evolved well beyond its previous, politically constrained form, especially since China's land borders have remained relatively stable and Beijing has created more civilian forces to deal with internal unrest, freeing the military to focus abroad. The PLA's role is now more than just protecting China's borders, or preventing internal instability; it is preserving China's broader national interests, which include the protection of China's lines of trade. The PLA sees this global role emerging, starting in the South China Sea. New capabilities have allowed China to act with more authority in the South China Sea than in previous decades. Beijing does not see this as aggressive behavior but as defensive action, through which it is securing what is necessary to preserve its national interests.

Beijing's Goals in the South China Sea

China's aims in the South China Sea are not necessarily separate from its broader goals in Southeast Asia. Beijing sees Southeast Asia as a natural economic and political partner, and an area for trade and investment flowing in both directions that clearly falls within China's sphere of influence. Though not an exact parallel, China sees Southeast Asia in much the same way the United States saw Latin America in the early 19th century. China essentially has an unspoken Monroe Doctrine for its near seas -- it intends to remove significant foreign interference and influence from the countries around it. This does not mean that China expects regional countries to shun all connections with the United States; rather, China wants to ensure that it has the upper hand in influencing its neighbors' decisions to protect its national security interests.

China's Moves in the South China Sea: Implications and Opportunities

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In the South China Sea, China's small island strategy is not necessarily one of military expansion. Far different than the island hopping competition between Japan and the United States during World War II, the airstrips and dock facilities on islands and atolls in the South China Sea rarely give China a true military advantage. Modern military technology gives China the range to operate without needing these islets, and possessing the islands does not necessarily give Beijing greater strategic control over their surrounding waters. In some ways, from a purely military perspective, holding the islands farthest from the mainland is more of a risk than a benefit to China. They are small, have few or no local resources (in most cases, not even fresh water), and in times of conflict would prove hard to defend and resupply.

Building structures on the islands certainly prevents others from doing the same, and in times of relative peace may make it slightly easier for China to conduct maritime surveillance, but the primary purpose of occupying the islands is not military; it is political. Holding the islands over time, without facing a concrete challenge, strengthens the reality of Chinese ownership. Beijing has assessed that, to its neighbors and their U.S. ally, no single island is worth the military risk of physically countering China, so there is nothing to stop Beijing from slowly absorbing the region. When tension with a particular country rises too high, China can ease off, shift its attention to a different country, or use the perception of heightened tensions to drive a desire for calming the situation. Over time, this strategy slowly shifts the political reality in the region. The lack of real challenge to Chinese actions reasserts, by default, Beijing's claims to and authority over the territory. It also shows that neither the United States nor other extra-regional allies are going to intervene on behalf of the Southeast Asian nations. In the end, China believes this unwillingness for intervention will lead to the realignment of political relations as Southeast Asian nations find accommodating Beijing more beneficial than trying to oppose Chinese expansion through alliances with powers outside the region.

Implications for ASEAN

The changing status quo in Asia is as much a natural consequence of China's economic growth and expansion as of the imbalance between China's rapidly changing position in the global system and its relative lag in soft-power expansion. While China's economic rise benefits the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) considerably, there is no guarantee that it doesn't also undermine the core interests of each individual ASEAN country. The disconnect between China's economic strength on the one hand, and the significant security role assumed by others -- namely the United States -- on the other, highlights the imbalance of power in the region. In some ways this gap has benefited ASEAN by giving member states the ability to take advantage of the big powers' competition for their own benefit. But at other times, they find themselves caught in the ebbs and flows of U.S.-China relations, with little ability to influence the direction of the relationship.

China's economic approach has been to create a reality where ASEAN countries rely much more on China than China relies on them. As the security challenges in the South China Sea remain unsolved, deepening economic relations may only deepen ASEAN's suspicion of China's motives. Meanwhile, China's occasional diplomatic and economic mismanagement of its regional relationships may stir political and social resistance in the ASEAN states, adding to the situation's complexity. Despite these short-term conflicts, Beijing still regards its "friendly neighbor" and "peaceful rise" policies as the key elements in its relationship with ASEAN. Rather than formally dominate ASEAN states, as colonial powers did in the past, China is hoping to simply draw them in and gain their cooperation -- a recreation of the age-old Chinese system of regional political management.

The Philippines' Key Role in China's Strategy

China's Moves in the South China Sea: Implications and Opportunities

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The Philippines forms the eastern wall of the South China Sea, the key route to the Pacific Ocean. China cannot afford to have the Philippines adopt a confrontational stance toward Chinese interests and maritime activity. The Philippines is a U.S. treaty ally, and thus is seen as part of any U.S. containment strategy against China. Beijing feels compelled to break U.S.-Philippines ties, or at the very least create strain in the relationship. The Philippines' somewhat ambivalent attitude toward the U.S. military certainly helps China's cause. Furthermore, growing disappointment with the U.S. "pivot" to Asia, a policy widely misread in the region, has added another dimension to the complexity of the relationship between Manila and Washington. In other words, there is plenty of room to increase cooperation between China and the Philippines -- especially economically -- despite any political speed bumps. In 2013, the Philippines received just 1.4 percent of China's total investment in ASEAN, the second-lowest share among the 10 member states. Cross-border trade stood at $15.1 billion that year, ranking China as the Philippines' third most significant trading partner (and higher, if trade with Hong Kong is included). But there is much room for expansion, if political distractions can be overcome.

The Philippines has been one of the two countries in the South China Sea, along with Vietnam, that has noisily challenged China's expansion. Beijing's actions are the most disadvantageous to Manila and Hanoi, which claim the largest swathes of territory in the South China Sea after China itself and are therefore experiencing the biggest shifts from the status quo as a result of Beijing's expansionism. However, China is confident in dealing with the Philippines because of its disproportionate advantage in their economic relationship and because the U.S.-Philippine security relationship remains strained. The strategic balance between China and the Philippines is tipped heavily in Beijing's favor, giving China far more room to maneuver than Manila. Barring significant U.S. intervention, China will retain this advantage. Ultimately, Beijing is counting on its estimation that the United States won't get tied up in a real confrontation with China over a few unoccupied islands claimed by the Philippines.

Read more: China's Moves in the South China Sea: Implications and Opportunities | Stratfor
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204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / International community outraged! , , , not. on: November 10, 2014, 12:58:05 PM
second post
205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Civil Forfeiture on: November 10, 2014, 12:15:02 PM
Civil Forfeiture is still with us , , ,


Here's today's WSJ:

The Next Attorney General
One area to question Loretta Lynch is civil asset forfeiture.
Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, New York, speaks after being nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama. ENLARGE
Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, New York, speaks after being nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama. European Pressphoto Agency
Nov. 9, 2014 7:00 p.m. ET

The early reporting on President Obama ’s choice to be the next Attorney General is that few in Washington know much about her. That may be one of the reasons Mr. Obama picked Loretta Lynch after last week’s election rout. Barring some future revelations, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York isn’t likely to stir a partisan brawl with the new Republican Senate.

This does not mean that she shouldn’t receive a thorough vetting. She has been a member of Eric Holder’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys, and as such should be questioned about his policies. These include his use of race as a political cudgel—especially in law enforcement. Mr. Holder has used “disparate impact” theory to coerce settlements from banks and other businesses based on statistics but no proof of discrimination. A federal judge recently threw out the Administration’s disparate-impact rule in housing, and the Supreme Court is hearing a separate legal challenge.

As a prosecutor Ms. Lynch has also been aggressive in pursuing civil asset forfeiture, which has become a form of policing for profit. She recently announced that her office had collected more than $904 million in criminal and civil actions in fiscal 2013, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Liberals and conservatives have begun to question forfeiture as an abuse of due process that can punish the innocent.

On the other hand, Ms. Lynch doesn’t appear to be the grandstander that many other U.S. Attorneys are, and perhaps she will show a political independent streak. She is certainly a better choice than Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who would have warranted a confirmation fight. Republicans have enough high priorities in the next Congress that the bar should be high for challenging non-judicial nominees who seem to be qualified and honest.
206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party on: November 10, 2014, 12:08:22 PM
207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury scores some points on: November 10, 2014, 11:40:13 AM
Monday Morning Outlook
Change Is In The Air To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 11/10/2014

While many flay away, trying to figure out the meaning of last week’s GOP wave election, it seems simple. The government has tried for more than five years to turn a Plow Horse economy into a Race Horse, and failed. Yes, the economy is growing and creating jobs, but living standards are growing slowly, or not at all, for many.

This doesn’t mean Republicans gave voters a reason to vote for them. There was no clear national agenda broadly accepted by GOP candidates going into the election.

Instead, the GOP capitalized on disappointment with President Obama, the economy, and a general feeling of malaise. Like the 1970s, a large expansion of the entitlement
state, higher tax rates, a patchwork quilt of crony capitalism, including subsidies for wind and solar power and electric cars has undermined growth. And no amount of Federal Reserve quantitative easing seems to help – banks are just piling up excess reserves.

What’s interesting is that voters seem to get what many opinion-leaders don’t get at all. There is an eerie agreement between many on the left and right that QE has had a big effect. The “left” – led by Paul Krugman – says QE (and other government spending) kept rates down, boosted stocks, increased consumer wealth and demand, and, therefore, economic growth. We just needed more of everything.

Meanwhile, many on the “right” say the only reason stocks are up is because of QE, but that somehow it only affected stocks and nothing else. They say this because they don’t want President Obama to get credit for anything.

We’re not sure which side is more twisted up in intellectual knots. If QE kept interest rates down, why did rates fall as the Fed tapered and then ended QE? And if QE is the main reason stocks are up, why hasn’t QE generated higher gold prices, a lower dollar, or broad-based inflation?

The bottom line is that neither Ben Bernanke nor Janet Yellen have ever fracked a well or burned the midnight oil writing apps. This recovery has not been about Washington, DC at all. It’s been about the Cloud, and 3D printing, and surging energy production, as well as, yes, a natural normal recovery in home building and auto production, which would have been even stronger if the federal government had just left those sectors alone.

That’s why profits are up and, in turn, profits are the key reason the stock market has been in a bull run. Meanwhile, those profits are helping generate the recovery we have, despite all the harmful policy gimmicks of the past decade.

In the end, the voters are looking for results and the only mechanism that will give them the extra growth they want is freer markets, including the freedom to fail.

Last week gave us two reasons to hope this policy shift is on the way. One is that many (but by no means all!) in the GOP are inclined to support freer markets and now their political hand is stronger. The other was the news Friday that the Supreme Court agreed to review a challenge to the health care law that asks whether Obamacare can only provide subsidies in states that run their own exchanges.

It’s hard to exaggerate the significance of this legal case. If the Court rules against the Obama Administration’s interpretation of the law – and we think it probably will – it would, in effect, free each state to decide whether it will be an Obamacare state or not as written. Without all the states involved, we doubt the law can survive. Those who support freer markets would be poised to move the health system in that direction.

None of this can be taken to the bank. Politicians, that supposedly support freer markets, have squandered the Reagan-Thatcher revolution – just look at 2005-06, when the GOP controlled every elected branch of government. But this time, the American public is running out of options. Freer markets are the only thing left to try. The stock market seems to understand this and is moving higher.
208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Getting close to terror, but not to stop it. on: November 10, 2014, 11:32:51 AM

Getting Close to Terror, but Not to Stop It
Port Authority Officer Kept Sources With Ties to Iran Attacks

WASHINGTON — After a car bombing in southeastern Iran killed 11 Revolutionary Guard members in 2007, a C.I.A. officer noticed something surprising in the agency’s files: an intelligence report, filed ahead of the bombing, that had warned that something big was about to happen in Iran.

Though the report had provided few specifics, the C.I.A. officer realized it meant that the United States had known in advance that a Sunni terrorist group called Jundallah was planning an operation inside Shiite-dominated Iran, two former American officials familiar with the matter recalled. Just as surprising was the source of the report. It had originated in Newark, with a detective for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The Port Authority police are responsible for patrolling bridges and tunnels and issuing airport parking tickets. But the detective, a hard-charging and occasionally brusque former ironworker named Thomas McHale, was also a member of an F.B.I. counterterrorism task force. He had traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan and developed informants inside Jundallah’s leadership, who then came under the joint supervision of the F.B.I. and C.I.A.

Reading the report, the C.I.A. officer became increasingly concerned. Agency lawyers he consulted concluded that using Islamic militants to gather intelligence — and obtaining information about attacks ahead of time — could suggest tacit American support for terrorism. Without specific approval from the president, the lawyers said, that could represent an unauthorized covert action program. The C.I.A. ended its involvement with Mr. McHale’s informants.

Despite the C.I.A.’s concerns, American officials continued to obtain intelligence from inside Jundallah, first through the F.B.I., and then the Pentagon. Contacts with informants did not end when Jundallah’s attacks led to the deaths of Iranian civilians, or when the State Department designated it a terrorist organization. Senior Justice Department and F.B.I. lawyers at the time say they never reviewed the matter and were unaware of the C.I.A. concerns. And so the relationship persisted, even as American officials repeatedly denied any connection to the group.

The unusual origins and the long-running nature of the United States’s relationship with Jundallah are emblematic of the vast expansion of intelligence operations since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. With counterterrorism a national priority, new players — the F.B.I., the Pentagon, contractors and local task forces — have all entered the spy business. The result is a sometimes-muddled system in which agencies often operate independently and with little oversight.

“Every agency wants to be involved in counterterrorism and intelligence now,” said Representative Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat who sat on the House Intelligence Committee and said he did not recall being briefed on the Jundallah matter. “We have these Joint Terrorism Task Forces everywhere, and there’s so many of these antiterrorism thrusts in our bureaucracy. There’s so much more going on.”

The C.I.A., the F.B.I., the Pentagon and the office of the director of National Intelligence all declined to comment for this article. But more than half a dozen current and former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it, confirmed both American involvement with Jundallah and the way it evolved. Several current officials who discussed the operation played down its significance, attributing it to lapses in oversight, rather than a formal effort to ally with a terrorist group.

At the center of the operation was Mr. McHale. Those who know him paint a contradictory picture — someone whose skill in developing sources was highly regarded by the F.B.I. but who bristled at the restrictions of bureaucracy and whose dealings with Jundallah were conducted largely “off book.”

Mr. McHale, 53 and now retired from the Port Authority, refused to comment. A high-school graduate from Jersey City, Mr. McHale became a law enforcement celebrity after 9/11, helping to rescue survivors and recover victims at ground zero, and playing himself in Oliver Stone’s movie, “World Trade Center,” in which Nicolas Cage starred as a Port Authority police officer.

His work on Newark’s Joint Terrorism Task Force took him to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he helped capture leaders of Al Qaeda alongside F.B.I. and C.I.A. colleagues. He received the Port Authority’s Medal of Honor for bravery in 2006.

“If there’s a new Greatest Generation, then McHale would certainly define it,” The New York Post wrote in a 2011 profile.

But friends say he could be brash and opinionated, the kind of guy who, if he thought your email was stupid, would immediately say so — and copy your boss on the reply for good measure.

“Tommy is not without opinions, and he is generally happy to share them with his colleagues and bosses,” said Don Borelli, a retired F.B.I. counterterrorism supervisor who worked with Mr. McHale in Pakistan but was not involved in the Jundallah matter. “As you can imagine, this has ruffled some feathers, especially at the F.B.I. But when it hits the fan, Tommy is the guy you want on your team working the case.”

Mr. McHale was at home in the fast-paced culture that seemed particularly frenetic after Sept. 11, 2001, when decisions were made and executed on the fly in response to seemingly omnipresent terrorist threats. And after 9/11, information about the Middle East was at a premium. As it happened, Mr. McHale had a source, an informant who had been on the F.B.I. payroll since about 1996, officials said.

The informant lived in the New York area, according to three former officials, but had friends and family in Baluchistan, a sprawling region covering parts of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The informant introduced Mr. McHale to these overseas connections, which included members of the Rigi family, the namesake of a powerful Baluch tribe based in southeastern Iran.

The arrangement was promising enough that after 9/11 the informant became a joint F.B.I. and C.I.A. asset, meaning he was supervised by both agencies simultaneously, with Mr. McHale as the point person, officials said.

Southeastern Iran, where the Rigis are based, is the country’s poorest region, a sparse, lawless area where water is scarce and life expectancy is low. The Baluch people, who are mostly Sunni, have long faced oppression at the hands of the Shiite government. Security forces have demolished homes. Sunni leaders have been shot dead in the streets.

Against that backdrop, a charismatic young member of the Rigi family, Abdolmalek Rigi, founded Jundallah — the soldiers of God — to fight the Iranian government in 2003. Its leadership drew heavily from the Rigis. The United States would later estimate that Jundallah attracted 500 to 2,000 members, making it about the size of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen.

But in its early years, the group received little attention in Washington. And Mr. McHale’s relationship with the group did not raise concerns, former officials say. In part, they say, that was because the United States did not yet consider Jundallah a terrorist organization and it had stated no intention to attack the West. But they say it was also because one of the government’s leading experts on Baluchistan, and the one most likely to spot the potential problem, was Mr. McHale himself.

Brazen Attacks

Over time, Jundallah grew more brazen. In 2005, its operatives ambushed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s motorcade, failing to kill him. The group was also blamed for a rapid series of attacks, including a massacre at a checkpoint in 2006. The following year, Jundallah carried out the car bombing on a bus full of Revolutionary Guard members.

The extent of the intelligence provided by Mr. McHale’s informant and his overseas network of contacts could not be determined. But Baluchistan serves as a hub for militant groups and smugglers who move drugs, weapons and kidnapping victims across the porous borders of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some Baluch fighters share ideological ties with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of 9/11, is an ethnic Baluch. Over the years, information from Mr. McHale’s sources filled huge intelligence files, three officials said.

It is not illegal for government agents to use criminals or terrorists as sources. Developing informants inside Al Qaeda has been a C.I.A. preoccupation since 9/11. But the goal has always been to use those informants to help dismantle Al Qaeda itself. In the case of Jundallah, the objective was to obtain information, former officials said, not to combat the group or stop its attacks.

Current and former officials say the American government never directed or approved any Jundallah operations. And they say there was never a case when the United States was told the timing and target of a terrorist attack yet took no action to prevent it.

Still, the risk of such arrangements is that atrocities committed by people working with the United States could be seen as sanctioned by the government. In Guatemala, for example, a military officer working with the C.I.A. ordered the killing of an American citizen in 1990. When that came to light, it became a major scandal that forced the C.I.A. to review its entire informant network.

The F.B.I., too, has a checkered history in this area. In one widely publicized case, F.B.I. agents in Boston used the mobster James (Whitey) Bulger as an informant, even as he and his gang committed murder. That scandal led the F.B.I. to rewrite its rules, which now require extensive record keeping and scrutiny of informants who commit crimes.

As an F.B.I. informant, Mr. McHale’s original United States-based source would have been subjected to that scrutiny. But requirements are less onerous for secondary sources, known as “subsources.” So officials acknowledged that there was little oversight of the people inside Jundallah whom Mr. McHale talked to and met abroad.

It is not clear which specific officials authorized the relationship with Jundallah to continue after C.I.A. lawyers raised concerns about it. Lawyers at the Justice Department and F.B.I. at the time say they were unaware of the relationship or the C.I.A. concerns.
Continue reading the main story

But though the government now says Mr. McHale worked as a single operator, there are indications that senior officials knew of and approved of the relationship he developed with Jundallah. For example, in 2008, senior F.B.I. officials in Washington approved a trip Mr. McHale made to Afghanistan, where he met with his network of informants. By rule, the C.I.A. would also have had to approve that trip.

Mr. McHale’s intelligence reports circulated widely throughout the intelligence community, former officials said. In 2009, the C.I.A.’s Iranian Operations Division gave Mr. McHale an award for his work, former officials said. The reason for his commendation is unknown. Dean Boyd, the C.I.A. spokesman, said the agency could not confirm having provided an award and declined to comment further.

By then, the State Department had begun considering whether to designate Jundallah as a terrorist organization. American officials denied repeated accusations by Iran that the United States and Israel were working with the group.

Iranian forces captured Abdolmalek Rigi in February 2010 and executed him that June. But Jundallah was undeterred. That July, two of its suicide bombers attacked the Grand Mosque in Zahedan, the provincial capital in southeastern Iran. Approximately 30 people were killed and hundreds were wounded. Jundallah identified the bombers as Abdulbaset and Muhammad Rigi, relatives of their fallen leader.

President Obama condemned the carnage. “The United States stands with the families and loved ones of those killed and injured, and with the Iranian people, in the face of this injustice,” he said.

Keeping Ties After Terror

But the United States’s relationship with Jundallah’s leaders, through Mr. McHale and the F.B.I., did not change, even after the State Department formally designated Jundallah a terrorist organization in November 2010. As one of the government’s few experts on the region and the organization, Mr. McHale participated in the internal review that led to the decision, according to current and former officials. The designation did not prompt a review of Mr. McHale’s informants.

“Jundallah has engaged in numerous attacks resulting in the death and maiming of scores of Iranian civilians and government officials,” the State Department declared. “Jundallah uses a variety of terrorist tactics, including suicide bombings, ambushes, kidnappings and targeted assassinations.”

In late 2013, Mr. McHale requested approval to fly to Afghanistan to meet his contacts again, but the F.B.I. denied it. Exactly why — because of objections to the mission or because of governmentwide budget cuts that year — is not clear. By then, however, Mr. McHale’s brusque personality had caught up with him. He had developed a reputation for being difficult to manage, and F.B.I. managers in Newark complained that he did not keep adequate records of his intelligence operation. Friends said Mr. McHale found himself without support.

So instead, he arranged the trip through the Pentagon. Former officials say the F.B.I. did not try to stop him or object to the collaboration. It was his fifth trip to the region. Photos on his LinkedIn page documented the trip, showing Mr. McHale in Afghanistan alongside American Special Forces.

A few months after his return, the F.B.I. forced him off the Newark task force. Officials said recently that it was in part because of his unauthorized trip to Afghanistan.

Mr. McHale returned full-time to the Port Authority, but things had changed there, too. The controversy over Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge had led to management changes at the Port Authority, and friends said Mr. McHale lost some of his bureaucratic support. He became embroiled in a bitter fight with the agency, friends and colleagues say, and retired from the agency last spring.

Some federal officials blame Mr. McHale for what they describe as an operation that veered out of control. They said that if the United States and Jundallah had too close a relationship, Mr. McHale’s go-it-alone attitude was to blame.

But friends and former colleagues say this characterization of Mr. McHale as a rogue operator is unfair. They point out that the relationship persisted for more than a decade, and Mr. McHale’s actions were approved and applauded by several United States agencies over those years. “I’m not sure what to say about this case,” said Mr. Holt, who is retiring from Congress this year. “Everything is plausible in the freewheeling intelligence world.”

With Mr. McHale in retirement, the future of America’s involvement with the Rigis is unclear. Jundallah has fragmented. Its followers have joined other militant groups. But officials say that Mr. McHale’s original informant, the one who holds the key to a network of overseas informants, remains on the books as an F.B.I. informant.
209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Alabama constitution modified to limit sharia and other foreign law on: November 10, 2014, 11:26:44 AM
210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Adams: Why we need a Senate 1776 on: November 10, 2014, 11:04:40 AM
"A single assembly is liable to all the vices, follies, and frailties of an individual; subject to fits of humor, starts of passion, flights of enthusiasm, partialities, or prejudice, and consequently productive of hasty results and absurd judgments. And all these errors ought to be corrected and defects supplied by some controlling power." --John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776
211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bill Whittle on a rampage on: November 10, 2014, 11:00:38 AM
212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH analyzes the data with some surprising admissions on: November 10, 2014, 10:51:27 AM
213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gen Dempsey defends Israel's Gaza mission on: November 10, 2014, 10:41:47 AM
And we are sending a team to learn from them.

214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / An inconvenient study on: November 09, 2014, 07:21:05 PM
215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Interesting new human genetic info on: November 09, 2014, 07:05:50 PM
216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dar Al Islam in Sweden on: November 09, 2014, 07:02:38 PM
217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Landrieu does the anatomically impossible on: November 09, 2014, 02:40:33 PM
218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Valerie Jarret and AG Holder in OFF on: November 09, 2014, 01:36:17 PM
219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: November 09, 2014, 12:04:19 PM
The SoS gig will be used to present her as "presidential".  She has plenty of establishment heavyweights sucking up to her on this point already and her agents are busy planting/spreading the word about how she disagreed with the decision not to leave troops in Iraq.

IMHO, a good and sound strategy for us is to paint her with Libya and the lead from behind overthrow of Kaddaffy that has led to a black hold of AQ anarchy.  Baraq jetted off to Brazil and Hillary, aided and abetted by Samantha Powers and Susan Rice put the whole thing together.

220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Joseph Warren, Boston Massacre Oration, 1775 on: November 08, 2014, 06:55:06 PM
"On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves." --Joseph Warren, Boston Massacre Oration, 1775
221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Who is the real Chicken Turd? on: November 04, 2014, 10:41:09 AM
222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prager: The Tactics of the Left on: November 04, 2014, 10:40:08 AM
223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Who was there first and the most? on: November 03, 2014, 11:28:03 PM
224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: November 03, 2014, 10:33:40 PM
They called it "smart diplomacy" , , ,
225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: November 03, 2014, 07:09:09 PM
Good discussion on the merits.

Some additional points:

1) The market looks forward.  It tanked when McCain got passed in the polls by Obama.  It hits new highs when it looks like the Reps will control both houses.  Coincidence?

2) Many of the big gainers are international and have their profits made (and often staying) overseas;

3) Unemployment rate dropped when Reps insisted on shortening the 99 week "emergency" extension of unemployment-- much to the hysteria of Baraq and friends;

4) Deficit dropped sharply due to The Sequester-- again to Cassandran wailings of doom from Baraq and friends.

226  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Kali Training in US for use in WW2 on: November 03, 2014, 07:03:05 PM…/historic-world-war-ii-foot…/
227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / KKK vs. Neo-Nazis on: November 03, 2014, 04:12:10 PM
228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IMHO Wesbury scores well here on: November 03, 2014, 04:06:17 PM
QE: It Didn't Work To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Senior Economist
Date: 11/3/2014

Conventional Wisdom says that greedy, crazy, speculative, bankers almost destroyed the world back in 2008 and the government saved it with TARP and QE. Many analysts believe QE has kept the US from lurching back into recession. Some even think QE means hyperinflation is on the way.

But the data don’t support any of this. QE started in September 2008, while TARP was passed a month later. But between October 2008 and March 2009, the S&P 500 fell an additional 40%, while the recession only got worse. Inflation never took off and nominal GDP growth has remained subdued.

By contrast, our minority view is that the crisis was never as bad as many think; that mark-to-market accounting turned a large, but not economy-killing, problem, into a Panic. Supporting our case is that the equity market, and the economy, bottomed when mark-to-market accounting was fixed in March/April 2009. In other words, this is not a “sugar high” driven by monetary stimulus.

Only history can prove which one of these views is correct. But, now that the Fed has tapered, we have some real evidence to digest. The Fed has reduced its monthly purchases from $85 billion per month to zero. Yet, instead of a calamity, U.S. real GDP grew at a 4.6% annual rate in Q2 and a 3.5% rate in Q3. The unemployment rate has dropped to 5.9% from 7.2% a year ago (with a big assist from ending extended benefits). The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Friday. And, the yield on the 10-year Treasury is lower today than it was in December 2013.

In other words, it looks like ending QE3 made the economy stronger, not weaker. Intellectually speaking, those who believe that QE was driving economic activity have a problem.

Remarkably, many analysts who claim to believe in free markets support the conventional wisdom. They give credit to government or the Fed for driving growth, when in fact it has been government that has held growth back.

We believe new technology (like fracking, the cloud, 3-D printing, apps,…etc.) has driven profits higher. The stock market is up because it represents the returns from investment by the private sector in these new technologies.

Meanwhile, government spending, regulation, and tax hikes have held the broader economy back – to a tepid 2.3% annual real GDP growth rate since the recovery started in mid-2009. The economic drag from forced redistribution and a large misallocation of credit are holding back overall growth.
As QE ends, this misallocation of credit is diminishing and the private sector is expanding. It’s time for investors to focus even more on what’s been driving equities higher the past five years: the power of entrepreneurship, not QE.
229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Samuel Adams: Character, 1775 on: November 03, 2014, 11:25:22 AM


I need those words today.  Thank you.


"Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters." --Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, 1775
230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Using Psychometrics to filter out undesirables on: November 03, 2014, 11:22:14 AM

Guest Column: Going Dutch - The Psychometric Tool Against Jihadism in the West
by Esam Sohail
Special to IPT News
November 3, 2014
The famed laissez faire liberalism of the Dutch is only matched by their flinty commonsense. Two years after the brutal 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh at the hand of Islamist jihadists in Amsterdam, the Dutch government quietly introduced a form of personality testing for immigrants from certain backgrounds who wished to make the Netherlands their permanent abode. By showing a set of short video clips highlighting the culture of diversity, secularism, free speech, and gender equality to potential migrants from very different cultures and then allowing responsible officers to evaluate reactions of the audience, the Dutch government made a very business-like decision to ensure a proper fit for a person to his/her new home. The government of the Netherlands continues to monitor this new screening tool which went into effect as a pilot project in 2006 and will likely be rolled out on a larger scale in the years ahead.

Immigration, especially of people with high education and in their prime working years, remains vital to the economic prowess and social welfare systems of most developed countries. That said, that necessity is better coupled with wisdom. With tens of thousands of people from the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia moving to the Anglophone countries every year, the United States, Canada, Britain, and Australia do not have the luxury of waiting to institute large scale and focused immigrant testing that small Holland does. While security safeguards have been heightened in all of these desired immigration destinations, the common flaw remains the same across the board in the English speaking democracies: all potential immigrants are treated to the same battery of standardized screening procedures which often evaluate the Christian fleeing victimization in Bangladesh and Pakistan along the same lines as an Islamist engineer wishing to plant the flag of Islam for himself and his children in Canada. Neither the standard questions of the type "have you ever been part of a terror group" nor the routine check of law enforcement agency reports is going to do much diagnostic good in this regard. The Dutch figured this out finally and, instead, decided to tentatively use the science of psychometrics to detect potential trouble before it becomes actual trouble.

Let us be brutally honest about immigration from countries where Muslims are in big majorities. Almost all of these countries have cultures where Salafi Islamism is ascendant, where free speech and gender equality are increasingly dismissed as parts of some Western plot, and anti-Semitism is a staple for the most popular conspiracy theories. Not all immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, Malaysia, or the Arab world adhere to such Islamist tendencies. But many, including quite a few professional and educated types, do. And these are the ones that can quickly become the transmitters, organizers, sympathizers, funders, and even purveyors of jihadism in the civilized world (remember Palestinian Islamic Jihad board member Sami Al-Arian and would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad?). In the age of shadowy ISIS sympathizers in Chicago, jihadist murderers on London streets, and Muslims converts on rampage in Ottawa, it only make sense to quarantine the Islamist virus at the entry point whether it is dormant, passive, or active. The Dutch have shown the path to do so; the rest of the civilized world should improvise.

Psychometrics is not an exact science and no psychological evaluation or personality test is fool proof. On top of such uncertainty, these things cost time and money which are realistic constraints for visa evaluators and Customs agents. Yet, these tools are increasingly sophisticated and used in human resourcing decisions by growing number of major businesses and public entities; at the disposal of well-trained immigration professionals who have the flexibility of discretion and a relatively narrow focus, such psychometric instruments can be vital weapons against potential jihadist terror.

Potential long term immigrants from certain areas should be instructed – even provocatively so – on the fundamental importance of free speech, dissent, apostasy, equality before the law regardless of religion or gender, and basic personal liberties. They should be evaluated on their reactions through well developed and professionally benchmarked tests and such evaluations should be allowed to inform an immigration official's decision to about a residency application. Indeed this kind of approach could lead to the penalization of certain beliefs; but if such beliefs include the rectitude of killing apostates and punishing women for wearing short skirts, should we be shedding too many tears? And even if we were to shed some tears at such scrutiny of those desiring to live in a pluralist society, isn't it better than the shedding of blood that could happen otherwise?

Esam Sohail is an educational research analyst and college lecturer of social sciences. He writes from Kansas, USA
231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Syrian half of Obama's strategy gets its ass kicked by AQ on: November 03, 2014, 07:18:10 AM
The Govt of Baghdad is one half of Obama's strategy. 

Here is how it is going with the other half:*Situation%20Report&utm_campaign=SitRep%20November%203%2C%202014
232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt of Bagdhad prepares ISIS offensive with US help on: November 03, 2014, 06:23:56 AM
Iraqis Prepare ISIS Offensive, With U.S. Help

WASHINGTON — Iraqi security forces, backed by American-led air power and hundreds of advisers, are planning to mount a major spring offensive against Islamic State fighters who have poured into the country from Syria, a campaign that is likely to face an array of logistical and political challenges.

The goal is to break the Islamic State’s occupation in northern and western Iraq, and establish the Iraqi government’s control over Mosul and other population centers, as well as the country’s major roads and its border with Syria by the end of 2015, according to American officials.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces have made inroads in recent weeks in securing territory threatened or captured by the Islamic State, including the Rabia border crossing with Syria, the oil refinery in Baiji north of Baghdad, the northern town of Zumar, and Jurf al-Sakhar southwest of Baghdad.

But the major push, which is being devised with the help of American military planners, will require training three new Iraqi Army divisions — more than 20,000 troops — over the coming months.

"It is a balance between letting them develop their own plan and take ownership for it, and ensuring that they don’t stretch themselves too far and outpace their capability,” said one United States military official, who asked not to be identified because he was discussing war planning.

Though the United States began to carry out airstrikes to protect Erbil in August, the longer-term campaign plan has remained under wraps. Now that the planning has advanced, more than a dozen Iraqi and American officials provided details about a strategy that is certain to become increasingly visible.

The basic strategy calls for attacking fighters from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, with a goal of isolating them in major strongholds like Mosul.

That could enable Iraqi troops, Kurdish pesh merga units and fighters that have been recruited from Sunni tribes to take on a weakened foe that has been cut off from its supply lines and reinforcements in Syria, which are subject to American airstrikes.

To oversee the American military effort, a new task force is being established under Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, who oversees Army forces in the Middle East and who will operate from a base in Kuwait. Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II will run a subordinate headquarters in Baghdad that will supervise the hundreds of American advisers and trainers working with Iraqi forces

As the push to train Iraq’s military gathers momentum, the American footprint is likely to expand from Baghdad and Erbil to additional outposts, including Al Asad Air Base in Iraq’s embattled Anbar Province in the west, and possibly Taji, 20 miles north of Baghdad.

The effort to rebuild Iraq’s fighting capability faces hurdles, including the risk that the Islamic State will use the intervening months to entrench in western and northern Iraq and carry out more killings.

The United States currently does not plan to advise Iraqi forces below the level of a brigade, which in the Iraqi Army usually has some 2,000 troops. Nor is it clear under what circumstances the White House might allow American advisers to accompany Iraqi units on the battlefield or to call in airstrikes, as Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has indicated might be necessary.

Iraq’s recent history suggests that such a battlefield advisory role is likely to be needed. Iraqi forces faltered during their 2008 offensive against Shiite militias in Basra until American commanders sent their troops to advise Iraqi forces below the brigade level and facilitate airstrikes.

As the plan stands now, no American agency has been assigned to train Iraq’s police, although they will be responsible for protecting areas that have been cleared by the army.

Iraq’s Shiite militias, some of which have been supported by Iran, pose another obstacle. Antony J. Blinken, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said last week that it was important that the Shiite militias be withdrawn, disband or have their members integrated into Iraq’s security forces.

But Fuad Masum, the Iraqi president, has suggested that the militias could be needed until the Islamic State was thoroughly defeated.

A major challenge will be synchronizing the Iraqi campaign with the American effort to train the beleaguered moderate Syrian opposition. The Pentagon’s program to train 5,000 Syrian rebel fighters a year in Saudi Arabia and Turkey has yet to get underway, which raises the possibility that Islamic State fighters could be pushed back into Syria well before there is a trained and equipped Syrian rebel force to oppose them.

Another constraint is self-imposed. Military officials say the White House has limited the number of United States advisers, analysts and security personnel in Iraq to 1,600. There were 1,414 troops in Iraq as of Friday, about 600 of whom were acting in advisory roles from joint operations centers in Baghdad and Erbil, and at division and higher headquarters.

A White House spokesman, Alistair Baskey, said the figure was not a limit, just the number of troops required for the current missions. One senior United States official, who asked not be identified because he was discussing internal planning, said it was likely that the number would need to be raised. Army planners have drafted options that could deploy up to an additional brigade of troops, or about 3,500 personnel, to expand the advisory effort and speed the push to rebuild the Iraqi military.

The Iraqi military has been active in recent weeks, but these operations have taken a toll on its forces. United States officials say that the initial force they are planning to advise consists of only nine Iraqi brigades and three similar Kurdish pesh merga units — roughly 24,000 troops.

The counterattack plan calls for at least doubling that force by adding three divisions, each of which could range from 8,000 to 12,000 troops.

The United States is relying on allies to augment American trainers. Australia, Canada and Norway have committed several hundred special forces to one or more of the training or advisory missions, a senior United States military official said.

The national guard initiative has been promoted by American officials as a way for Sunnis in western and northern Iraq to play a major role in defending their territory, which would ease sectarian frictions.

But the Iraqi Parliament has yet to enact legislation to establish the brigades, which would still need to be trained and equipped.

As a result, a “bridge” policy would be needed so that the Iraqi government, with American help, could work directly with Sunni tribes in the meantime, Mr. Blinken said at a conference hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last week.

General Dempsey said Friday that ISIS’ recent gains in Anbar show “why we need to expand the train, advise and assist mission into” Anbar Province.

A senior United States official said that much of this bridging initiative has yet to be defined. But an early test is expected to unfold soon in Anbar, where about 5,000 Sunni tribesmen could join the fight against the Islamic State in a replay of the pivotal American effort in 2007 to enlist Sunni tribal leaders to turn against Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, the forerunner of the Islamic State.

Overcoming Sunni wariness of the Shiite-led government in Baghdad will be challenging, American officials said.

James M. Dubik, a retired three-star Army general who oversaw training of the Iraqi military during the surge in 2007 and 2008, said the most critical part of the campaign would be the effort to win the allegiance of Iraqis after the Islamic State is routed.

“Behind it has to come some reasonably legitimate, evenhanded and nonsectarian governance over those areas that are taken back from ISIS,” he said.

Even if the overall Iraqi plan succeeds by the end of 2015, American officials say, pockets of resistance could remain. American commanders acknowledge that the effort to defeat ISIS will be lengthy.

“This is not going to happen in three weeks, a month, two months,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff and a former top commander in Iraq, told CNN on Wednesday. “It’s a three- to four-year effort.”
233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bernard Hopkins, Muslim on: November 02, 2014, 11:58:35 PM

“There’s a god of this world,” Bernard Hopkins was saying. “Some say the mass media is the god of this world. It’s like a song, like that ‘Happy.’ They shoved it down my throat. At first I hated it. Why I got to be happy? My dog died! But it ended up being one of my favorite songs. They put one of those songs out every 20 years. No matter how bad your life is, no matter how legitimate your reasons for being upset, they say, ‘Don’t worry, be happy.’ Song’s only three minutes, then you stop being happy. The way they control human beings, like cattle. How do a sheepdog keep 50 or 100 sheeps in order? I’m watching a dog keep a herd on TV, and I’m thinking that’s the way the system got most human beings: ‘Eat this. Drink that.’ ”

I had at some point asked him a question about boxing, but I hadn’t really expected a straight answer. Asking Hopkins a question is like trying to hit him. He won’t let you, but the experience of being frustrated by him can be instructive. Among other things, it can help you understand how Hopkins, the oldest champion in the history of boxing, continues to hang onto the title, his money and his considerable wits at the age of — this is not a typo — 49. Hopkins currently holds two of the four major light-heavyweight belts and will try to further unify the division’s fragmented title on Nov. 8, when he faces Sergey (Krusher) Kovalev, the unbeaten Russian knockout machine who holds one of the other two belts and who, though relatively untested, is widely considered one of the deadliest seek-and-destroy punchers of any size.

Unlike most other boxers, who train down to their fighting weight only when they have a bout coming up, Hopkins keeps himself right around the 175-pound light-heavyweight limit. Fight people marvel at the ascetic rigor that has kept him perpetually in superb shape for almost three decades, his habit of returning to the gym first thing Monday morning after a Saturday-night fight, the list of pleasurable things he won’t eat, drink or do. But to fetishize the no-nonsense perfection of his body, which displays none of the extraneous defined muscular bulk that impresses fans but doesn’t help win fights, is to miss what makes Hopkins an exemplar of sustaining and extending powers that are supposed to be in natural decline. He has no peer in the ability to strategize both the round-by-round conduct of a fight and also the shifts and adjustments entailed by an astonishingly long career in the hurt business. He has kept his body supple and fit enough to obey his fighting mind, but it’s the continuing suppleness of that mind, as he strategizes, that has always constituted his principal advantage.

Opponents don’t worry about facing his speed or power. They fear what’s going on in his head.

On a hot summer afternoon, Hopkins was having his hands wrapped in preparation for a workout at Joe Hand Boxing Gym in North Philadelphia. I had asked if he ever felt tempted to dumb down his subtle and hyperefficient boxing style — if he ever throws more punches than his exquisite ring sense tells him is necessary to win a round (which would increase the risk of being hit in return), for the benefit of ringside judges unequipped to appreciate his nuances.

“I understand and I don’t understand human beings,” Hopkins began, warming up for the filibuster to come. “In life — I’m gonna give you life and also sport, intertwined — in life, when you start being conscious of what people are thinking or judging, you’re in trouble.” From there, he took off on his disquisition on the hegemonic power of mass media. It’s one of his favorite subjects, and also, he didn’t want to talk about judges, in keeping with his disinclination to discuss any topic related to fighting or training that might give even the slightest advantage to the large subset of the human race he regards as potential enemies. From “Happy” and sheepdogs he segued into a critique of the prison-industrial complex, another frequently recurring subject for Hopkins, who learned to box in his early 20s while serving five years at Graterford Prison, outside his native Philadelphia, for assorted felonies. “It’s privatized,” he said. “You can buy stock in prison! That means, when I do something” — illegal, he meant, that leads to imprisonment — “you can buy stock in me.” He’s not shy about pointing out that both private and public interests invest heavily in the social failure of black men. All the more satisfying, then, to have beaten the odds: “But I flipped the script on the norm.”

Hopkins is sure that “the shot-callers and string-pullers” yearn for his comeuppance. They and their pawns are always after him to quit, he said. " ‘You got enough money.’ Now they counting my money! ‘We don’t want to see you get hurt.’ Where were they when I was walking off nine?” — a reference to the nine years he spent on parole following his release from prison in 1988, a period of self-reform and toeing the line that he considers the hardest thing he ever did. It’s part of a litany of young troubles and redemptive turns, a personal Stations of the Cross composed of vividly emblematic scenes from a life story that begins in the Raymond Rosen projects in North Philly and eventually arrives at the big home in suburban Delaware where he now lives. Along the way came three stab wounds collected before age 14, a prolific career as a violent street criminal culminating at 17 in an 18-year prison sentence, jailhouse rapes and a murder he witnessed, the shooting death of his brother Michael, a Quran given to him by a fellow inmate that reawakened his faith, the bracing plunge via Graterford’s boxing program into the icy clarity of the gym and the ring, the warden who supposedly said, “You’ll be back,” when Hopkins was paroled.

Opponents don’t worry about facing his speed or power. They fear what’s going on in his head.

Hopkins began playacting a scenario in which They look for a weakness with which to bring him down. " ‘We gotta discredit him. Do he drink? He don’t drink. Do he run with whores? He don’t. He lives clean. He don’t party. He don’t use drugs. Who cooks his food? He cook his own food. He stands in line at Whole Foods with everybody else.’ So they try to find guys to beat me, and I beat them, and I get rich. They become part of my discipline.” Then he was off on another of his regular topics: the conspiratorial failure of Whole Foods, Nike and other corporations to make a “poster boy” of him, a bad boy who became a good citizen and the most potently healthy-living middle-aged man imaginable. How come the marketers, who ate up George Foreman’s fuzzy-bunny routine and Lance Armstrong’s lies, aren’t lining up to pay for the celebrity-pitchman services of an outspoken Sunni ex-con who abjures alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, processed grains, tap water, performance-enhancing drugs, weakness and just about everything else other than winning fights and making money? This grievance is part of the eternal drama of Bernard Hopkins, a renewable energy source that helps keep him going strong in and out of the ring.

Continue reading the main story
Hopkins climbed through the ropes and onto the canvas, stretched and shadowboxed for a while, and then spent a few rounds working on the mechanics of not being hit. A burly young man named Bear came after him with a blue foam wand in either hand, trying to tap him with simulated punches. Hopkins timed Bear’s advances, shifting the range between them to forestall blows, then stepped in close to put his shoulder on the bigger man, driving him back by expertly shifting his own weight. When Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” came on the gym’s sound system midround, Hopkins gave me a significant look over Bear’s shoulder: They never rest.

There are masters of defense who rely on will-o-the-wisp elusiveness, making a spectacle of ducking punches. Others build a fortress with their gloves, arms and lead shoulder, deflecting incoming blows. Hopkins can slip and block punches with the best of them, but his defensive technique is founded on undoing the other man’s leverage by making constant small adjustments in spacing and timing that anticipate and neutralize attacks before they begin. It’s somehow never quite the right moment to hit Hopkins with a meaningful shot. Boxers, especially big hitters, feel a kind of click when the necessary elements — range, balance, timing, angle — line up to create an opening to throw a hard punch with proper form. Hopkins doesn’t run away, but an opponent can go for long stretches of a round without ever feeling that click.

Frank Lotierzo, a former boxer from Philadelphia who is one of the fight press’s best analysts of ring style, broke down some of Hopkins’s defensive habits for me: “You’ll notice he’s looking down a lot, watching the other guy’s front foot to see when it comes up, which it does when you step into a punch, and that’s when he makes his move. He ties up opponents’ elbows on the inside; you control the elbows, you control the arms. He never backs straight up; he’ll give you an angle every time. He will pick a side and go away from your power, isolate one side of your body, step over and fight you on your blind side.” Drawing from that repertory, Hopkins went around and around with Bear in a state of tautly maintained détente, discouraging wand-blows but not throwing any punches himself.

Naazim Richardson, Hopkins’s trainer (and Bear’s father), took over for a while, wearing a glove on one hand and a pad on the other to catch punches. A steady skullcapped presence in Hopkins’s corner, Brother Naazim, as he’s known, is more co-conspirator than mentor. At this point, Hopkins, who received advanced instruction in his craft from English (Bouie) Fisher, George Benton and other wise men of Philadelphia’s deep ring tradition, knows more about boxing than most trainers. Hopkins and the much larger Brother Naazim shoved and hauled in a series of messy tussles from which Hopkins would emerge to bang the pad with a clean shot or two. Hitting the pads, intended to ingrain accuracy and speed and precise punching form, has become for most boxers in training a largely empty exercise in self-affirmation. The trainer holds up the pads, and the fighter pop-pop-pops them with blisteringly impressive combinations in predictable rhythm, combinations that he’s unlikely to throw in the give and take of a real fight. But Hopkins was rehearsing a more realistic struggle in which he would spend a lot of time shifting and mauling to denature an opponent’s leverage, looking to create an opening in which to score with a sneaky inside shot.

Figuring out what the other guy wants to do and not letting him do it is a matter of policy for Hopkins. But it’s also an expression of his inmost character and worldview. He’s not so much a contrarian as a serial agonist who regards life as an unending train of struggles for the upper hand, and over the years he has come around to the premise that such a life is best lived through a relentlessly calculated managing of self rather than the self-destructive fury of all-out aggression. One key to his longevity at the top of the fight world is that he has come to consider it “barbaric” to exchange blows with an opponent. Hopkins, who listens to Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” while he does roadwork, will employ any tactic at his disposal, fair or foul, to frustrate an adversary — fighter, manager, promoter, TV executive, conversational foil — while he applies his strategic acumen to the problem of divining that adversary’s deepest intention and coming up with a scheme to nullify it while absorbing the absolute minimum of punishment.

After Hopkins’s record-setting reign as middleweight champion from 1995 to 2005, it was widely assumed that he would retire and duly enter the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Instead, he retooled his body to move up two weight classes, straight to 175 pounds from 160 without pausing at 168 (super middleweight), an unheard-of leap in the modern era, and thrashed the light-heavyweight champion, Antonio Tarver, who was heavily favored to beat him. In middle age, Hopkins has made a specialty of flummoxing and defeating younger men who were supposed to have too much power for him: Tarver, Felix Trinidad, Kelly Pavlik, Tavoris Cloud, Jean Pascal.

Hopkins, who used to be known as the Executioner but now styles himself as the Alien, has a record of 55-6 with 2 draws; he will turn 50 in January. Imagine, if you’re looking for parallels in other sports, that the linebacker Ray Lewis did not retire at 36 last year and was still playing in the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl in 2026; or that Derek Jeter, who was 14 when Hopkins had his first professional fight, decided to play on past 40 and was still making the All-Star game and the playoffs in 2023. But getting old in the ring is a far more brutal and unforgiving process than getting old on any playing field. Winning title fights is the highly visible part of a much larger spectrum of effort that includes giving and taking countless blows, weathering the grind of making weight, training more consistently and shrewdly than anyone else, guiding his own boxing and other business affairs, preserving the integrity of his fortune and brain function and priming his seemingly inexhaustible motivational engine. Even great boxers tend over the long haul to lose the desire to do what it takes to win fights, but Hopkins’s sense of purpose, like his fighting mind, shows no signs of flagging. If anything, it’s getting sharper and stronger.

“To me, Bernard, he ain’t no real gifted athlete,” says Robert Allen, a former middleweight contender who was in his early 30s and already in decline when Hopkins (who is four years older than Allen) beat him in 1999 and 2004. “He’s just a little of everything on the average: average punching power, average hand speed.” Measured by the absurdly high standards of elite fighters, Hopkins’s only outstanding physical attribute is his “chin” — the ability to take a punch — which has less to do with natural gifts than with conditioning, technique, experience and will. Hopkins’s “ring generalship” is what sets him apart, Allen says. “The ring is like his home. It’s like he’s sittin’ on the couch watchin’ TV, relaxing. He’s like a snake, not even breathin’.” In 2011, Allen said of Hopkins: “He’s not really a fighter. It’s like something more political when you get in there with him.”

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Hopkins has changed his style over time to accommodate advancing age, moving the emphasis to efficiency over action. A mature-period Hopkins fight goes the distance — he has never been knocked out, and he hasn’t knocked out an opponent since Oscar De La Hoya, 10 years ago — and considering they’re boxing matches, they don’t have that much hitting in them. His objective is to prevent the other man from doing much of anything at all so that Hopkins can win rounds with a few well-considered blows. Sometimes he shaves his margin of victory too fine, or the other man is just a little too active and strong, and Hopkins loses a close decision, but nobody ever gives him a beating. Louts who lust for blood may boo when Hopkins works his punch-expunging magic, but Sun Tzu, who taught that a wise general wins by attacking his opponent’s strategy rather than by risking the contingencies of pitched battle, would approve.
‘The ring is like his home,’  says a former opponent. ‘It’s like he’s sittin’ on the couch watchin’ TV, relaxing. He’s like a snake, not even breathin’.’

Hopkins’s former opponents describe fighting him as an ordeal and an education. First come the prefight head games. “He touched me, pushed me in my face at the weigh-in, and it worked,” Winky Wright told me. “It made me want to hurt him and knock him out, instead of outbox him.” Once in the ring, “he won’t allow you to do what you want to do,” as Allen put it; I heard versions of that phrase over and over from men who fought Hopkins. And when an opponent does sense an opening, that could well be a trap. “He’s always five steps ahead of you,” De La Hoya told me. Hopkins set him up for the diaphragm-paralyzing left hook to the body that ended their fight by letting De La Hoya delude himself into believing that he was coming on strong. “He let me throw some punches for a couple of rounds, let my confidence build up,” De La Hoya said. “I got a little too confident, let my guard down, and that’s when he hurt me with a punch I didn’t see.” Smiling ruefully, he added, “I really thought I was going to win the fight!”

A skilled fouler, Hopkins will also hold-and-hit, punch low, step on an opponent’s instep and follow through with his own smooth-shaved skull after a punch to initiate a clash of heads. And he shamelessly complains about the dastardly things supposedly being done to him by the other guy. “When he bent over like I’d hit him low, he looked so wronged,” said the former super-middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe, laughing. “But he was just buying some time.”

Hopkins has hung around in boxing long enough to profit from the passage of time. (The same goes for his extensive real estate holdings in once-depressed and now-gentrifying neighborhoods in Philadelphia.) Sixty or 80 years ago, when the sport was more popular and more deeply embedded in day-to-day life in industrial America, there were several fighters in every weight class who knew all the little things that together add up to Hopkins’s big edge in the ring. But no longer. Hopkins is an enduring atavism, a one-man history lesson in the boxer’s craft.

The men he has fought, even much younger ones, have slipped away into retirement in his wake. The will to fight diminishes, and the once-peerlessly toned body follows. “Oh, man, I’m done,” Kelly Pavlik said when I asked him if Hopkins’s longevity gave him ideas about a comeback. De la Hoya said, “More power to him, but I’m done.” Winky Wright said: “I’m done. I play a lot of golf. It’s easier.”

Hopkins makes a habit of putting his hands on potential opponents to size them up, assessing their strength and feeling for weakness. In July, I watched him do roughly the same thing to a Showtime producer. Hopkins made a joke about being camera-shy — he’s not — just so he could laugh and slap the man’s shoulder, run a hand along his ribs, get a feel for whom he was dealing with. This habit can turn sitting and talking with him into a contact sport. He scoots his chair up to yours and bumps your knee with his own, as if striving for position. Leaning in so close that you can feel his hot breath on your face, he pokes and prods a shoulder, a forearm, jabs stiffened fingers into your torso just a little too hard, nominally to illustrate a point he’s making about digestion or human frailty or whatever. When I asked him about it, he said: “Feeling for softness is important to my diagnosis. Sometimes you can see and look, but you gotta feel to really check.”

Continue reading the main story
‘If you don’t know your own value, somebody will tell you your value, and it’ll be less than you’re worth.’

At the time we were sitting face to face on folding chairs in the media room of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Hopkins, a minority partner in Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De La Hoya’s company, which he joined a couple of months after he knocked out De La Hoya in 2004, was in town to boost a fight promoted by Golden Boy. But we were talking instead about how he learned the business side of boxing. This part of his story is essential to understanding his longevity because it’s about rigorous self-knowledge. A great strategist knows his enemy, Sun Tzu says, but he also knows himself. Hopkins performed his own diagnostic routine on himself as a young felon and didn’t like the resulting self-portrait — that of a doom-seeking knucklehead — and so he found the discipline in boxing to go straight and make good. He examined himself again as a rising middleweight in his late 20s and, again, didn’t like what he found: a patsy who dutifully did all the hard work at the behest of others who took more than their share of the money.

So, armed only with native smarts and a jailhouse G.E.D., Hopkins set out to turn a weakness into strength. “I started asking questions, trying to figure out how everybody else was making more than me, and I’m taking the punches,” he said. “I had to learn the business — international rights, marketing, license fees, the gate, concessions, merchandising, sponsors.” He did it on the sly at first. “I didn’t want to let people know I was trying to learn, or they would have tried to stop me, so I would ask questions about other fighters who set an example for me not to do.”

By 1995 he felt ready to take over his own boxing affairs, and he has managed himself ever since, employing lawyers and other “soldiers who do the legal mumbo jumbo” to help negotiate deals that allow him to take home a much greater share of the money he makes in the ring. “I started getting mines late in the game, once I realized I should know this before I became another [expletive]-up fighter,” he said. “If you don’t know your own value, somebody will tell you your value, and it’ll be less than you’re worth.”

Hopkins, who has put his ring earnings into a conservative business portfolio strong on real estate and bonds, resolved long ago not to end up punchy and cadging for handouts, as so many former fighters have. In addition to looking out for himself, he has a wife, Jeanette, and three children to provide for. He offers advice to younger fighters, like the undefeated super middleweight Andre Ward, who told me: “He’s always hammering home: ‘Nobody gets paid unless you get in the ring. So get what you’ve got coming, and save your money. Everybody likes nice things, but wait.’ ”

When I asked Hopkins about advising other fighters, he said, “I was perceived as a troublemaker” when he began managing himself, “because I was a slave who learned to read. Maybe I’m more of a troublemaker now — somebody trying to stand up for themselves and maybe influence others, teach the other slaves how to read.”

Bernard Hopkins may well be the best old fighter ever. Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali, whose names come up often in discussions of the greatest fighters of all time, were both over the hill by their late 30s. Even among the few greats who fought into their 40s — Bob Fitzsimmons, Archie Moore, George Foreman — it’s difficult to find parallels to Hopkins’s late-career run of lucrative high-profile victories over top-flight competition. Others who fought into middle age have typically ended up taking a pounding that made them look pathetic, but Hopkins gets hit less than ever these days, and his post-40-year-old losses have been by debatable decision. And of course, Hopkins and his few near-peers in long-term success are all exceptions to the fight world’s Hobbesian norm of short primes followed by brutal declines. Consider Mike Tyson, who is a year younger than Hopkins. Tyson peaked in 1990 at 24, and was effectively finished as a serious fighter by 1997.

Hopkins may be richer, more sophisticated, more patient and (according to those who work with him) mellower and less abrasively paranoid than he used to be, but he’s constitutionally unequipped to grow overcomfortable in success. When I asked if he had been concerned, back when he started managing himself, that he might be blacklisted by the powers that be, he said, “I feel like I was blacklisted in 1965” — at birth. “I don’t get blinded by a few successful peoples, like Jay-Z or Oprah. I look at the people who didn’t make it — the penitentiaries, the thousands.” A handful of champions make serious money, but boxing remains fundamentally a sport for those who, like Hopkins as a young man, feel they have nothing to lose. While he had to outgrow that earlier version of himself in order to survive and prosper, he hasn’t lost touch with it. He used a mug shot of him taken in 1984 as wallpaper for his phone. He looks older in it than he does now, he says.

I asked, “Are we talking about the motor that makes you go?” and he wrong-footed me by coming back with a straight answer. “Yes,” he said. “Being the person I became, this is the person I am.”

Carlo Rotella is director of American studies at Boston College and the author, most recently, of “Playing in Time: Essays, Profiles and Other True Stories.”
234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Chris Rock on BHO on SNL on: November 02, 2014, 11:49:03 PM
235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Massive alien vote registration in Maryland on: November 02, 2014, 11:28:02 PM
236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Imagine the outcry if Israel did this: Egypt expels Gazans on: November 02, 2014, 12:56:37 PM

Click here to watch: Egypt Expels Gazans While the World sits Silently

Arab residents of Gaza were rounded up by armed soldiers and forced to flee their homes, which were promptly exploded in impressive plumes of dust and sand - but the soldiers were Egyptian, and there has been no international criticism of the buffer zone Egypt is establishing by force on the Gaza side of the Sinai border. In the buffer zone plan, Egypt is seizing and evacuating all homes and farmland up to 500 meters (over 1,640 feet) into Gaza, all along the 13 kilometer (over eight mile) border. Additionally, a channel with a depth and width of 20 meters (over 65 feet) will be dug along the Gaza border. The expulsion is in fact being sped up, after the Egyptian army said Saturday night it discovered hundreds more smuggling tunnels into Sinai from satellite imagery, reports the Arabic-language Sky News as cited by Yedioth Aharonoth. As of last week, 200 families living in the buffer zone area defined by Egypt had accepted a financial package to compensate their abandonment of their homes, but 680 more families were still refusing. Video uploaded on Saturday shows the expulsion in full steam, as Egyptian tanks and helicopters can be seen over a Gazan town. Armed soldiers go house-by-house and residents flee with all of their belongings loaded into cars, before cranes knock down their homes and explosions rend the air.

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The Egyptian move follows two lethal terror attacks two weeks ago on Friday, in which at least 31 Egyptian soldiers were killed in El-Arish in the Sinai by a suicide bombing and a shooting attack. Egyptian sources revealed last week that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the attack through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai; the attacks were conducted by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis jihadists, members of a group sympathetic to Islamic State (ISIS). Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi justified the expulsion by citing the attacks, which led him to declare Sinai in a state of emergency, and insisting "Egypt is fighting a war of existence." Despite the fact that Hamas terrorists aim to destroy Israel, IDF actions to defend Israel from attack such as in the recent counter-terror operation have been met with a tidal wave of international criticism - the Egyptian expulsion of Gaza has been met with no such condemnation so far. Egypt has been cracking down on Hamas, in recent months banning the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot and implementing a siege on Gaza. While Egypt has deployed troops to the Sinai to fight the rampant jihadist terrorism in the region in coordination with Israel, concerns remain that the Egyptian disarmament of the peninsula as part of its peace agreement with Israel may be in danger of collapsing altogether, posing a potential military threat to Israel.

Source: Arutz Sheva

237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Who decides if Jerusalem is Israel? on: November 02, 2014, 07:29:52 AM
Is Jerusalem in Israel? Ask the Supreme Court
The State Department says no, Congress says yes. Now the justices will decide a case involving a boy’s passport.
Akiva Shapiro
Oct. 31, 2014 6:35 p.m. ET

Menachem Binyamim Zivotofsky is soon to become a bar mitzvah, but his place of birth is still in dispute.

This much is clear: He was born on Oct. 17, 2002, in Shaare Zedek Hospital, in western Jerusalem. His parents, Ari and Naomi, are U.S. citizens, which makes him a U.S. citizen as well. But when his mother visited the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to apply for a passport and birth documentation for her newborn son, and listed his “place of birth” on both applications as Israel, consular officials balked.

Since 1948, successive U.S. presidents have taken the position that Jerusalem is a city without a country, pending the conclusion of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Under State Department policy, personal-status documents of Jerusalem-born U.S. citizens such as Mr. Zivotofsky list only the city “Jerusalem” as the passport holder’s place of birth, and not Israel. That Jerusalem has, as a matter of fact, been the seat of Israel’s government for almost seven decades is of no relevance to the State Department.

In 2002 Congress stepped in and passed a law that directs the Secretary of State to permit U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to choose to list “Israel” as their place of birth. The purpose of the law was to provide citizens like Mr. Zivotofsky the opportunity to self-identify as being born in Israel. But Presidents Bush and Obama have refused to implement the statute, citing what they called the president’s “exclusive” powers to direct the nation’s foreign affairs and to recognize the boundaries of foreign powers. His parents filed a lawsuit on behalf of their child, then a year old.

Fast-forward a decade. Mr. Zivotofsky is now at the center of a skirmish between the president and Congress with profound implications for our system of checks and balances. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments next week in Zivotofsky v. Kerry.

The conventional wisdom is that this is a case the plaintiff cannot win. Why should the Supreme Court honor the request of a 12-year-old boy to effectively override long-standing U.S. foreign policy on a hot-button issue—the status of Jerusalem—of international importance?
The city of Jerusalem ENLARGE
The city of Jerusalem Corbis

The answer is that it’s not a lost cause—because Congress is on Mr. Zivotofsky’s side. The law giving him the right to list “Israel” as his place of birth passed almost unanimously in both houses of Congress. The entire Senate, as well as a number of individual U.S. representatives, have submitted friend-of-the-court briefs urging the Supreme Court to enforce the law.

The right question to ask, then, is whether the executive branch is free to ignore Congress’s directives whenever legislation touches on foreign affairs. Successive presidents have taken the position that it is, yet there are two major problems with this position.

First, you can search the Constitution from beginning to end for an exclusive commitment of foreign-affairs authority to the president. You won’t find it. To the contrary, the Constitution equips Congress with many foreign-affairs powers, including commerce with other nations, the ratification of treaties, immigration regulations and control over declarations of war. As the constitutional scholar Edwin Corwin long ago noted in his book “The President: Office and Powers, 1787-1984,” the Constitution is “an invitation to struggle for the privilege of directing American foreign policy.” Since the nation’s founding, Congress and the president have been engaged in that fruitful and dynamic struggle. Our tripartite system does not end at our borders.

Second, the Supreme Court has repeatedly pushed back against broad assertions of exclusive executive power that, as the president urges in Zivotofsky, purport to negate reasonable legislation by Congress. For instance, in 1977 the court rebuffed President Nixon ’s challenge to a post-Watergate act of Congress that placed Nixon’s papers in federal custody—to thwart their destruction. In 1988 the court rejected President Reagan’s contention that restrictions Congress imposed on the removal of an independent counsel by a presidential appointee impermissibly interfered with the president’s “appointments clause” powers.

The Constitution permits—and even encourages—certain kinds of intermingling between the branches of government, so long as Congress does not prevent the executive branch from “accomplishing its constitutionally assigned functions,” as the Supreme Court wrote in the Nixon case. The Jerusalem passport statute Congress passed merely provides a U.S. citizen with the opportunity to self-identify as being born in Israel in that citizen’s travel and personal status documents. It does not try to alter the president’s position of official neutrality with respect to the status of Jerusalem. Allowing the president to wield an “absolute negative on the legislature” even where Congress has acted so modestly would, as James Madison warned in Federalist No. 51, open the door for executive powers to be “perfidiously abused.”

With these principles in mind, the Supreme Court should once again reject the president’s assertion of unbridled executive power and uphold the law on narrow grounds, preserving Congress’s rightful role in foreign affairs. That way, guests at Mr. Zivotofsky’s bar mitzvah can raise a glass not only to finally settling this young man’s place of birth—but also to the outsize role he has played in preserving our system of checks and balances.

Mr. Shapiro is a constitutional litigator at Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher in New York, and counsel to amici curiae members of Congress in Zivotofsky v. Kerry.
238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We don't want stay at home moms on: November 02, 2014, 07:25:56 AM
239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 12 Tribes: How to prevent a nuclear Iran on: November 02, 2014, 01:08:42 AM
Click here to watch: How to prevent a nuclear Iran

On November 4, American voters will be facing a monumental and high stakes moment in which they will decide whether control of the US Senate will continue to be in Democratic Party hands or be turned over to the Republicans. American voters should be warned that the continuance of a Democratic-controlled Senate led by Harry Reid will guarantee that Iran will end up being the first Islamist jihadist state with a nuclear weapon. Only a Republican-controlled Senate and House of Representatives will be able to stop President Barack Obama from capitulating to the Iranians and signing a bad deal which will allow the country to become a nuclear threshold state. A bill proposed by fellow Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and Republican Mark Kirk, which threatens additional harsher sanctions than those originally imposed on Iran in 2011 if no final agreement to dismantle their nuclear enrichment program is reached by the November 24 deadline, failed to even come to a vote on the Senate floor this last winter. The resolution, which at the time had the votes to pass with 43 Republicans and 16 Democrats cosponsoring it, was blocked from coming to a vote by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at the request of the White House. While only two Republicans did not support the bill, many of the Senators from the Democratic Party were against it including many Jewish Senators. Only if the Republicans take control of the Senate, it is likely that Obama will find himself presented with a new sanctions bill whether or not he signs a final agreement with Iran.

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The blocking of this legislation by the White House is flabbergasting when one remembers that Iran only came to the negotiating table in large measure because of the original crippling economic sanctions drafted by Senators Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez in 2011 which was reluctantly signed into law by Barack Obama. Those sanctions reduced Iran’s oil exports and cut it off from the global, dollar dominated financial system. Consequently, Iran’s currency lost three quarters of its value and inflation and unemployment rose greatly. As senior Treasury Department officials told Reuters in an interview, "Iran’s economy today is about 25% smaller than it would have been if we had not imposed the oil and financial sanctions." On October 19, the New York Times reported that Obama was planning on bypassing the Congress by not bringing a future final agreement to a Congressional’ vote which will include suspending the enforcement of the sanctions passed in 2011. Such a plan is worrisome because it implies that the agreement the US is pushing so hard for, is a bad one. Otherwise, why not bring it to the Congress which could then simply vote to rescind the sanctions or ratify the treaty after a full congressional hearing, disclosure and debate. The Los Angeles Times on October 20 reported that conservative Iranian lawmaker Javad Qoddoushi said that he was briefed by Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and a nuclear negotiator, who stated that the Obama Administration has sweetened its offer again in the ongoing negotiations, saying that it might accept Iran operating 4000 centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium, up from the previous 1300. This news came a week after we learned that the Obama administration has agreed to let the Iranians disconnect their remaining operating centrifuges, rather than dismantle or destroy them as Obama originally promised. These US concessions are the latest in a long line of concessions. In November 2013, the US and five other world powers signed the Geneva Interim Agreement in which they tacitly endorsed the Iranians "right" to enrich and gave them sanctions relief worth more than $7 billion just for willing to engage in talks. Then, after six months of negotiations in which the Iranians conceded nothing, the US extended the negotiations another six months despite the fact that Iran has still not implemented all the nuclear transparency measures it had agreed to carry out in the interim agreement. The only way now to pressure Iran to agree to dismantle their nuclear program is if the Iranians fear that the new elected Congress will be determined to override any possible Obama veto and shut down their economy again with much worse crippling sanctions. Voting for a Republican Senate majority this November will give a message to Iran that the American public does not support Obama’s agenda of appeasement and that the Republicans with the support of few righteous Democrats have the public mandate to take the fight to Obama and undermine any possible weak or bad final agreement. As the leading Republican critic of the negotiations, Senator Mark Kirk, said: "Congress will not permit the president to unilaterally unravel Iran sanctions that passed the Senate in a 99 to 0 vote."
Source: Ynet

240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / US behind in internet speed and affordability on: November 02, 2014, 01:05:41 AM
241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dem intimidation letter on: October 31, 2014, 06:12:10 PM
242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, etc. on: October 31, 2014, 05:07:39 PM
To build up a case of a conspiracy, first the violations on the ground have to be established, then a pattern shown, THEN the connection of the leadership to the pattern.  I suspect this last point will be difficult to prove to a sufficient probablility.

In the meantime, we are still at the ground level of getting convictions on the ground game.
243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison: The encroaching nature of power on: October 31, 2014, 11:22:30 AM
"It will not be denied that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it." --James Madison, Federalist No. 48, 1788
244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Massive non-citizen vote on: October 31, 2014, 11:08:31 AM
second post

 Latest Reason to Oppose Amnesty? Voter Fraud
Genevieve Wood, Daily Signal, 10/30/14

Are non-citizens potentially voting in Tuesday’s election?

Yes, according to Old Dominion University Professors Jesse Richman and David Earnest, who wrote an article for The Washington Post highlighting their findings:

Most non-citizens do not register, let alone vote. But enough do that their participation can change the outcome of close races. Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 Cooperative Congressional Election Study sample), we find that this participation
was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes. Votes cast by just 0.65 percent of Minnesota non-citizens could account for this margin. It is also possible that non-citizen votes were responsible for Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina. Obama won the state by 14,177 votes, so a turnout by 5.1 percent of North Carolina’s adult non-citizens would have provided this victory margin.

The professors acknowledge that there are “limitations” to their research and that they are “much more confident” non-citizen votes were a factor in Minnesota than they were in North Carolina. But the overall evidence points to the fact than non-citizens have had an impact on the outcome of some of our elections.

Unfortunately, President Obama seems poised to give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants through executive order after the election. It’s hard to imagine how giving legal status to millions of people who are here illegally will not make the problem of voter fraud worse.

There are numerous reasons to be both outraged and concerned about Obama’s plan to go around Congress before year’s end, wielding his phone and pen strategy, to give amnesty.

To start, the fact he isn’t taking action until after the election shows that he is isn’t just bypassing lawmakers, but also the American people. Obama well knows the majority of Americans oppose amnesty.

Were he to take action now, voters would have the opportunity to show their opposition by voting against members of his party who are up for election.

But snubbing the Constitution and voters is just the beginning.

According to news reports, a draft proposal from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services indicates the agency is looking for a private vendor that has the capacity to produce 30 million work permits and green cards over the next five years–and they’d like them to be ready to produce 9 million such documents in the first year alone. How much of this “preparation” is needed to fulfill whatever Obama does through an executive order on amnesty is unknown, but we can be fairly sure its part of the calculation.

Such a move is fraught with economic and security concerns. Is the president, who is so concerned about raising the minimum wage, not the least bit concerned about how a flood of low-skill workers would affect the U.S. economy and many of the very American citizens he says he wants to help move up the economic ladder? Is he willing to ignore the huge burden amnesty will place on American taxpayers?

And considering we appear to have very little control over our borders, with tens of thousands of people flooding the southern border earlier this year, and that the Obama administration has trouble even deporting criminals who are here illegally, Americans are right to be concerned about their safety and security.

No wonder Obama doesn’t want to talk about any of this prior to next week’s elections.
245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / California Pensions greater than for the President on: October 31, 2014, 10:58:01 AM
246  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Argentina on: October 31, 2014, 10:51:19 AM
  Ya hemos comentado sobre estos clips en el foro de la DBMA Asociacion. 

Aqui' escribo para decir no mas que "Buen trabajo, bien hecho."

247  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Stratfor: Normalista Unrest on: October 31, 2014, 10:48:56 AM


The legislature of the Mexican state of Guerrero approved an interim governor Oct. 26 to replace former Gov. Angel Aguirre, who resigned Oct. 23 amid rising political tumult following the disappearance in Iguala of 43 teaching college students known as normalistas. Aguirre's own political party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution, pushed him to resign to protect its political fortunes in its stronghold of Guerrero. As Aguirre was resigning, masked protesters in Mexico City prepared to take over the television station of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where they later broadcast a video demanding that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto locate the missing normalistas, whom the protesters alleged municipal police kidnapped on the orders of the mayor of Iguala.

The unrest in Guerrero is the latest manifestation of Mexico City's historical struggle to control the territories on its southwestern periphery, including Chiapas, Michoacan, Guerrero and Oaxaca states. The deserts, mountains and plateaus that begin outside Mexico City make for a large geographic territory difficult to control and integrate economically, leading to a substantial socio-economic divide between the core and the periphery, especially in Mexico's southwestern states. Their proximity to Mexico's core increases Mexico City's sensitivity to unrest there, given the risk of demonstrations spreading to the capital. Whether the current unrest will cause significant disruptions outside Guerrero remains to be seen. But either way, it has shined a spotlight on Mexico's ongoing struggles with political corruption, organized crime-related violence and the disparities between the urban core and rural periphery, publicity that could frighten off investors and disrupt Mexico City's security strategy.

The Sept. 26 incidents began when a group of normalistas from the Raul Isidro Burgos rural normal school in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero state, reportedly traveled to Iguala to steal buses to use in a demonstration on the anniversary of the Oct. 2, 1968, massacre of student demonstrators in Mexico City. According to the attorney general of Mexico, the mayor of Iguala ordered the municipal police to halt the normalistas. At some point, the police opened fire on two separate groups in Iguala that they thought consisted of normalistas and allegedly kidnapped 43 of them. The detainees were subsequently turned over to the Guerreros Unidos, a criminal group with which the mayor of Iguala and his wife reportedly have links. Shortly thereafter, normalistas began demonstrations in the state capital, Chilpancingo, and soon began garnering support from the broader teaching sector in the country's southwest, which was behind disruptive teacher protests in Mexico City in 2013.
Bad Publicity

The most immediate challenge to Mexico City -- unwanted attention on the insecurity within its borders -- is less serious than the struggle to control its periphery, but it is unwelcome nonetheless. Given the advent of energy reform, Mexico is now eagerly awaiting the foreign investment needed to jump-start its energy sector, but it fears that violence and unrest could scare off onshore investment. Though nationwide violence has gradually declined since its peak between 2010 and 2012, the always-restive Mexican southwest contains some of the highest levels of criminal violence in the country and the weakest local governments.

The emergence of the self-defense militias in Michoacan state and their war with the Knights Templar criminal group have served as a strong reminder to outsiders of the persistent difficulties of enforcing the rule of law in southwestern Mexico. The Sept. 26 incidents have done so as well.
Mexico's Geopolitical Subregions
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The unrest scaring off investors could get even worse if community-organized police, anti-government militants or the rural teachers of Mexico's powerful national teachers' unions join forces with the normalistas.
Community Police

The federal government has struggled to assert its authority over much of the rural areas of Guerrero state, and the state government has had even more difficulty. Because of the federal and state governments' inability to provide sufficient public safety to rural Guerrero, large geographic portions of the state populated by rural indigenous communities contain community police forces, civilian militias currently organized under one of two coordinating bodies that serve as de facto public safety institutions for the rural communities.

Guerrero's community police are not inherently anti-government. Their demands often include calls for a greater federal security presence in their respective areas, and they often dialogue and coordinate with the state and federal governments. Community police efforts focus on preventing organized crime from preying on community members, but unlike Michoacan's self-defense militias, they have not mounted military-style campaigns.

Even so, there are strong ties between Guerrero's community police and the rural teaching sector, including normalistas. In the 2013 teacher protests, Guerrero's community police assisted in the logistics required to transport teachers from Oaxaca and Guerrero to Mexico City. Continued unrest in Guerrero could draw community police into demonstrations, encourage a geographic expansion of their operations, or trigger a new armed conflict between organized crime and community police -- all of which would further threaten stability and Mexico City's authority in Guerrero. Still, the community police will be hesitant to do anything that would provoke a strong military response from Mexico City.

The poor economies, weak governing institutions and relative isolation from the core in Mexico's rural southwest have also created an environment suitable for various insurgencies that Mexico City has had to deploy military forces to quell at various times. Since the 1990s, several low-level Marxist guerrilla groups have emerged in Guerrero state. The most notable is the Popular Revolutionary Army, to which a number of attacks against federal troops and hydrocarbon pipelines during the 1990s and 2000s were attributed.

Whether any of these groups -- which have not given signs of meaningful activity since at least 2007 -- continue to operate remains uncertain, but normalistas in Guerrero share ideological affinities with them. Several communiques purportedly from the Popular Revolutionary Army and its suspected splinter groups have been disseminated in Mexican media outlets backing the normalistas and condemning the Guerreros Unidos. Aside from the communiques, however, no indicators of a new wave of guerrilla attacks in Guerrero have emerged.
Teachers' Unions

A more realistic threat to Mexico City arising out of the Sept. 26 unrest is that the broader educational sector will join forces with the normalistas. The lack of central authority in the southwestern states has given institutions including teachers' unions a significant degree of autonomy, freedom they jealously guard from government encroachment. The educational reforms Pena Nieto signed into law in February 2013 were taken as an existential threat to this autonomy. Resistance to the reform culminated in disruptive demonstrations in Mexico City whose participants primarily hailed from southwestern states and included normalistas from Guerrero.

Anti-government sentiment among southwestern teachers' unions remains strong, and could well expand once more in support of the normalistas. If it did, the demonstrations could reach the point of disrupting daily activity outside Guerrero, as did the 2013 teacher protests.
Iguala and Pena Nieto's Security Strategy

One of the key parts of the Pena Nieto administration's national security strategy has been transforming organized crime-related violence and public safety in general from a national security issue to a law enforcement issue. This move has involved transitioning away from using troops to patrol the streets under the reasoning that the military is a poor substitute for law enforcement and attracts unwanted attention to the country's security woes.

Mexico City will therefore be hesitant to expand the role of federal troops in Guerrero. But the growing unrest -- which has led to substantial destruction of government facilities in the state -- will likely necessitate an expanded military presence in Guerrero, undermining Pena Nieto's current security strategy.

How much the military presence in Guerrero state expands ultimately depends upon how much the unrest grows. While the pro-normalista demonstrations in Guerrero will likely see continued (and even stronger) support from the education sector and even from groups like the community police, the duration of this support will be limited by the participating groups' separate agendas. Either way, the unrest sparked by the Sept. 26 incidents has served as a stark reminder of Mexico's geopolitical challenges.

Read more: Normalista Unrest Highlights Mexico's Geographic Challenge | Stratfor
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248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Looks like the Reps are the stinkers here on: October 31, 2014, 10:40:00 AM
Right is right and wrong is wrong.  This sure looks wrong!

But OTOH there is this:

249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: October 31, 2014, 10:25:32 AM
Gas prices are falling and it looks like the Reps are going to take the Senate.

Both of these developments are very pleasing to the market and business confidence.
250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Drury & Clavin: Red Cloud & the Souix: The Heart of Everything that is on: October 31, 2014, 10:22:03 AM
Just finished reading this remarkable book about an amazing figure who actually defeated the US army and government and had them sue for piece.

For quirky reasons Red Cloud and his accomplishments have gone unnoticed-- but this book may change all that; authors Drury and Clavin do an extraordinary job of digging into a tremendous array of original source materials; they write with passion and really bring things alive.   

Highly recommended!
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